Better Tools Needed To Protect Poor From Hunger

Speaking at a meeting on food security in Rome on October 16, WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin underscored the importance of safety net programmes to help to address problems like volatile food prices and climate change. (Copyright: FAO/Giulio Napolitano)

Climate change and volatile food prices make the world’s poorest ever more vulnerable to hunger. That’s why social protection mechanisms and resilience strategies are increasingly important, says WFP Executive Ertharin Cousin, outlining some of the ways WFP is working with governments and other partners to address this need.

ROME—A new combination of “safety net” programmes are needed to address trends like climate change and volatile food prices that threaten to undermine progress made against hunger, said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin at a key meeting on food security in Rome.

Hunger and conflict are more closely related than ever before, she noted  in her address to delegates at the 39th Committee on World Food Security. Climate change has led to more frequent and intense natural hazards, such as drought, floods and tropical storms. And high food prices continue to challenge the ability of the poorest populations to provide for themselves.

“In our world, too many still struggle to find their next meal. Social protection and safety net programmes enable the most vulnerable, particularly women and children, to lift themselves out of hunger and poverty," said Cousin. "These programmes provide a cushion that is otherwise unavailable and build resilience against economic and environmental shocks."

The WFP Executive Director pointed to safety net programmes such as nutrition schemes for new mothers and their children and school meals projects as a way to cushion the impact of shocks like natural disasters and wild fluctuations in the price of food.

“Fully 60 per cent of people in developing countries lack safety nets for social protection, rising to as many as 80 per cent in the poorest countries,” noted Cousin, who also led a high-led discussion on how those safety nets can boost food security.

Here are a few examples of how safety nets fight hunger:

South Sudan

In the world’s newest country, daily school meals and take-home rations have encouraged more girls to come to and stay in school. Studies show that educated women are more likely to earn more and have healthier families and less likely to be forced into marriage at a very young age. Find out more

The Sahel 

In the wake of three major droughts in under a decade, child nutrition is a key concern in the Sahel region of West AFrica. To ensure that children grow up healthy and reach their full potential, WFP nutritions have designed special nutrition programmes focusing on the crucial first 1,000 days of life. Find out more

Syrian Refugees

Syria refugees in Lebanon and Turkey are receiving vouchers that they can redeem in local shops for food. This gives them greater freedom in choosing the foods that they want, such as fresh vegetables that aren't a part of WFP food rations. Find out more